The Great Backyard Bird Count in Roland Park

On Saturday February 17, six teens came to the Roland Park Branch to look for birds. They were participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count—an annual event coordinated by the Audubon Society and Cornell University that invites people from around the world to report which birds are in their immediate area on a single weekend. Professional scientists then use those reports to track things like migration patterns and changes in bird populations.

Roland Park’s teen ‘Citizen Scientists’ saw thirty-nine birds over the course of ninety minutes. They also used field guides and an app on the Branch’s iPad to identify six different bird species. Afterwards, Teen Librarian Alex Lawson submitted those observations to Cornell’s online database so that they’ll be available for use by birders and scientists.

The teens enjoyed bird-watching—they were always competing to see who could spot a bird first. They were also excited to know that the work they were doing was part of a larger project run by professional scientists. That, plus some hot chocolate, made the time fly by on a cold morning.

Check out more teen programming #atthepratt and sign up for our email list to find out about programming for all ages.

From Comics to Phenomenon: A Library Guide to Black Panther

Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, 2018, opens today, February 15. To celebrate the groundbreaking movie, librarians in the Humanities Department of Central Library compiled a list of books to give you some background information and related resources. They highlight the Afrocentric sensation of the Black Panther comics and the beginning of a powerful movement. Click the cover to reserve your copy now!

Representation in Comics

Black Film

Further Reading

Explore downloads and streaming media on our website.

Artists & Love: Famous Art Couples and Their Work

by Flory Gessner, Fine Arts and Music Librarian

Art Visionaries by Mark Getlein and Annabel Howard. When happening upon Félix González-Torres’ work in a museum, the un-indoctrinated might not recognize the twin clocks, piles of candy, or strings of lights as portraits of his partner Ross. Read more about the art that has come to symbolize love during the AIDS crisis and the life of Félix González-Torres in Art Visionaries by Mark Getlein and Annabel Howard.

I Will Never Forget You: Frida Kahlo to Nickolas Muray, Unpublished Photographs and Letters by Salomón Grimberg. While Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera had a notoriously stormy and treacherous marriage, Frida enjoyed a long and meaningful relationship with the Hungarian photographer Nickolas Muray. This book of photos and letters creates a portrait of an affair between a highly-mythologized artist and one of the pioneers of color photography.

The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: a Legacy of Invention by Donald  Albrecht. The married team of designers, Charles and Ray Eames, created some of the most unique and enduring furniture and architectural design of the last century. Explore the legacy of this productive partnership in a book assembled by the Library of Congress and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.

Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies by Nell Beram & Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky. For nearly 50 years John Lennon received full credit for the song “Imagine,” which is directly based on the art of his widow, Yoko Ono. While formal credit has only recently been acknowledged, Ono’s conceptual art and place in the international experimental art scene spans decades. Read about Ono’s body of work and discover a new perspective on this prolific artist and her influence on art and music in this concise biography.

Widow Basquiat: A Love Story by Jennifer Clement. In Basquiat’s 1982 painting “A Panel of Experts,” the name Madonna is crossed out below the name Venus. The “Madonna,” may be referring to pop-star Madonna (whom Basquiat briefly dated), but Venus is referring to his long-time girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk. Read about their life together in Widow Basquiat by close friend of both, Jennifer Clement.

Elizabeth Catlett: An American Artist in Mexico by Melanie Herzog. American multi-hyphenate artist Elizabeth Catlett chose the ex-pat life when she fell in love with fellow artist Francisco Mora in the 1940s. Read about how her move to Mexico expanded her view on the Black Experience in North America, and her boundary-breaking life and career in this book.

When Marina Abramović Dies by James Wescott. While Marina Abramović is a highly visible presence in the contemporary art world, she began her career as part of a duo with an artist known solely as Ulay. Even their breakup was a dramatic performance piece: in 1988, after over 12 years together, they walked towards each other from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China, met in the middle, and vowed never to see the other again.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: in /out studio by Christo. This catalog spans the dramatic and whimsical collaborations of the couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Together, they transcended the limits of sculpture, architecture, and performance for over thirty years.

Just Kids by Patti Smith. Though their relationship began as romantic and turned largely platonic, Just Kids is a love story about Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Patti Smith’s memoir is a love letter to art, New York, poetry, and a magical time spent developing as an artist with her close friends.

Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture, edited by Aaron Rose, Christian Strike, Alex Baker, Arty Nelson and Jocko Weyland. In this tome of graffiti and youth culture, see how artist couples like Ed and Deanna Templeton, Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen, and Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson created diverse bodies of work that transcended old art world boundaries of street art, folk art, skateboarding, painting, photography, and video.

Contemporary Romance Poetry at the Library

by Mary Dzwonchyk, Information Services Librarian

February is upon us, which means Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. What better way to celebrate the season than by curling up with a book of love poems? Whether you’re happily coupled, contentedly single, or pining after an ex, nothing speaks to the universal human experience better than love poetry.

After all, haven’t we all had a sweetheart “like a red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June”[1]?  Surely your lover “walks in beauty, like the night,”[2] “an angel beautiful and bright”[3] whose “eternal summer shall not fade”[4], right?

Or does all that sound a bit…too good to be true?

If you’ve ever been in love, you know it isn’t all “cloudless climes and starry skies.”[5] Idyllic scenes of blissful ecstasy make up roughly 5% of most romantic relationships; the remaining 95% comprises episodes of mundanity punctuated by small joys, silly quibbles and petty quarrels. This is the daily reality of love: the coffee spoons[6], the plums stolen from the icebox[7].

The following list is a sampling of works from contemporary poets who approach romance from this perspective, writing about love in all its raw, imperfect, mundane glory. All the collections listed below are available to check out from the Pratt.


Say So by Dora Malech

 Malech writes about love in rollicking verse, peppered with quick, alliterative trips of the tongue. Clever wordplay and unexpected imagery make Say So an engaging read, and ground poems like “Love Poem” and “The End” in gritty reality.

“Tell me you’ll dismember this night forever,

you my punch-drunking bag, tar to my feather.

More than the sum of our private parts, we are some

peekaboo, some peak and valley, some

Bright equation…”

(“Love Poem”)


Missing Persons by Hilary S. Jacqmin

Jacqmin presents romantic vignettes from all stages of life, from awkward teenage courtship (“The Breaking Wheel”), to post-adolescent sexual exploration (“Wedding Album”), to adult cohabitation (“Coupling”). Throughout, Jacqmin’s detail-rich, relatable diction allows the reader to share in her frustrations, sorrows, and joys.

“The bastard thing of dating is the boys

who take you bodily to the Renaissance Fair,

How they are all inexplicably named Ashley,

And how they encourage you to chaw

On turkey legs as leathery as blackjacks.”

(“The Breaking Wheel”)


The Uppity Blind Girl Poems by Kathi Wolfe

Wolfe offers a unique perspective on love and relationships, detailing her romantic experiences as a visually impaired lesbian. Through poems such as “Love at First Sight” and “Blind Porn,” Wolfe relates scenes of romance and sex in a delightfully down-to-earth voice brimming with humor and candor.

“They’d clicked that night

When they kissed in Washington Square Park,

Until this guy, panting, leered, I gotta take a pic
With my phone — two blind chicks making out.

(“Blind Porn”)


Tantalus in Love by Alan Shapiro

Shapiro offers beautifully melancholic meditations on love and loss: the slow fading away of attraction in a twenty-year marriage (“Anger”); the specter of lost love remaining after a break-up (“The Haunting”); and the cautious emergence of new love after loss (“Medley”).

“In the TV’s soft light, at the foot of the bed,

In pajama bottoms and a skimpy tank top,

Her lovely body that he hasn’t touched

In how long now? five months maybe? longer?”



I’d also like to recommend one of my personal favorite, albeit less contemporary, love poems: Sonnet 130, by William Shakespeare. Abandoning his usual flowery hyperbole, Shakespeare here takes a refreshingly realistic approach. He writes fondly of a mistress whose dull skin and reeking breath sharply contrast the rosy-cheeked, ethereal maidens populating his contemporaries’ work. Despite her flaws, his love for this decidedly un-goddess-like woman is “as rare/As any she belied with false compare.”[8]


[1] Robert Burns, “A Red, Red Rose”

[2] Lord Byron, “She Walks in Beauty, Like the Night”

[3] Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Love”

[4] William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 18”

[5] Lord Byron, “She Walks in Beauty, Like the Night”

[6] T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

[7] William Carlos Williams, “This is Just to Say”

[8] William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 130”

Love Songs at the Library

by Flory, Fine Arts and Music Librarian

Looking to serenade someone this Valentine’s Day? Come to the Fine Arts and Music Department at the Central Library to find the perfect song. From Beyoncé to Broadway Hits, we have the sheet music for collections of love songs that span decades, genres, instruments and languages!

Browse our catalog for some of our scores by using search terms like “Love Songs,” “Wedding Songs,” “Ballads,” “Popular Music,” “Hits,” or even  the title of a film you know the song is in.

Our massive song index can help you find “that one song, by that one guy,” so you can do your thing! Our music specialists can be reached by phone at 410-396-5490, online, or IRL at the Central Library Fine Arts and Music department. Let us help you find the guitar, vocal, or piano music to “your song,” to up your Valentine’s Day game. Click a the title below to reserve your copy.